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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The All Veggie Diet

When I first started out as a pet rabbit owner (as an adult! Not when I had them as a kid), I purchased the book "Rabbits for Dummies". It was great- had a list of good foods vs. bad foods for them to eat, etc. I dutifully avoided giving Scout fresh foods until he was 6 months of age, then limited carrots as treats, apple as a VERY rare treat and he got "Scout Salad" less than once every two weeks. (Scout Salad consisted of dark green lettuces- kale, romaine, broccoli which he didn't like...etc). He ate plenty of timothy hay.

When I became a breeder, I tried several feeds before deciding what to feed (Purina- it's just my favorite!) Now days, the rabbits get a single carrot perhaps twice a year.

There is a movement, out there in the world, for all domesticated rabbits to be moved to a purely fresh vegetarian diet.

That's what this post is about.

I believe, that if done PROPERLY by people who are not brain-washed in to thinking they can do no wrong, a MOSTLY fresh veggie diet is not a bad thing. Mostly, because I do believe PELLETS are necessary to make sure the rabbits get everything they need in a diet. Yes- I know that somewhere out there is a rabbit that has lived to be 16 on it. I have a 6 year old pet rabbit in my barn that ate a slim jim. Does that mean we need to start them on a meat by product diet? No.

Unfortunately, I feel 99% of owners on the Fresh Veggie Diet (let's call it FVD for short) are brain-washed in to thinking this is the ONLY possible diet. When your dwarf rabbit can't put it's front feet on the ground because of obesity, there is a problem. When rabbits have diarrhea constantly, fur loss, chafing, chapping and need to be fed gas drops DAILY- something is wrong. When animals are dying at under a year of age on this diet- there is a problem.

To begin with- pellets are not "CRAP". They are specially balanced foods that make sure an animal gets all of the nutrition it needs to survive. I know of a rabbit living to be 19 on a pellet only diet, and I can show you several now over 8 years old. A good pellet keeps the rabbit in beautiful condition- which is why show breeders feed it. It's also why we're always checking condition on our animals- because if they AREN'T getting all they need from their food, we want to know about it as soon as possible so that we can rectify that.

TOO MANY FRUITS WILL MAKE YOUR RABBIT FAT AND HAVE DIARRHEA. I'm sorry, fruits are high in sugars. Fluffy does not NEED them. If you had never had chocolate, would you NEED it and CRAVE it? No. By the way, these are animals. It's not about what they WANT, it's about what is good for them. Dogs will gorge on food until they get sick- does that mean they should be allowed to do that? No! Same with rabbits- they should NOT be allowed to gorge on junk food. If the rabbit gets fat, cut back the food!

Just use common sense- if the rabbit is sick constantly, does that REALLY mean that the FVD is the best for it? Should you have to dose it daily with medication? Should it have to live such an uncomfortable existence, such as being covered in it's own liquid feces, with the skin red and irritated? All for what, by the way? Because someone who's owned a pet rabbit once or worked at an animal shelter once told you that's the only way the animal should live?

Who would you rather have- someone who's been a nurse and had practice taking care of people, or someone who saw a nurse from across the room once?

I fed fresh foods in moderation when I had my pet rabbit. REMEMBER!!! These are not wild rabbits. They can't handle eating old vegetables, or snacking on anything they can find. They are not exposed to the same conditions as wild rabbits. Oh and need I mention the lifespan of a wild rabbit?

If you are experienced in rabbit care, experienced in their dietary needs and KNOW how to mix it so that they get the correct amount of food, plus all the vitamins and minerals they need- then feed your animal the way you want to. However, if this is your first pet rabbit and you can't even tell if it's male or female, a lop or an up earred breed, and can't figure out how to clip it's nails.... well, do you really feel qualified to say you know more about rabbit diets than a team of specialists who work for a large corporation who only gets paid based on how well their product sells? If the rabbit food is crap, breeders won't buy it- and that company fails to thrive. So they have the best interest of the rabbits at heart- because dying rabbits means dying sales.

Ok, taking a break from my soapbox.
Keep's Rabbitry


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with this Keep. (I'm MiniRexBunnies on Rabbit Habbit) I was on bunspace, and the admin gave me this whole lecture on how pellets were only made to fatten up the rabbitso we "horrible, evil rabbit breeders" can slaughter it. Pessimistic much? Yes, it fattens them if they get too much, but if you're feeding it the right amount, they are getting the essentials, right? People don't know what they are talking about sometimes...

April said...

I definitely agree with this Keep, very well said. If only ignorant people would take the time to actually do some research.

Keep said...

Places that ban breeders because we're all "horrible and evil" make me so sad- think of the lives that could be saved with a bit of KNOWLEDGE!

Thanks for the comments guys! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Keep! I found your blog through a link from minipawsbunnies :)

Great post! I agree with what you've written. It's extremely difficult to put together the right blend of vegetables which would consist of just the right nutritional balance for rabbits. When I got my first rabbit, nutrition was something I spent a lot of time reading up on. I still feed pellets to my rabbits in moderation.. I believe pellets are important to get the right balance of nutrients. Hay is free-fed and vegetables are treated more as supplements :)

OK, I'm off to browse through the rest of your blog! Have a nice day!

Devon Ward said...

Bravo :)